How to Get the Smell of Garlic Out of a Cutting Board

Sick of your strawberries tasting like garlic? Use this test kitchen trick for getting the smell out.

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chopping garlic on a cutting board
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Here in EatingWell's Test Kitchen, we all agree: one of the saddest fates to befall any piece of ripe, in-season fruit is when it takes on the taste of the last food you prepped on your cutting board. Especially when that food was something pungent, like onions or garlic. Garlicky strawberries, anyone?

To save you from this sorry situation, the Test Kitchen minced and mashed garlic into both plastic and wood cutting boards. Then we put half a dozen remedies for this odorous problem to the test. Here's what we found:

Remedy 1: Lemon juice and vinegar. We had high hopes for this powerful cleaning combo, which often works well for deodorizing other kitchen surfaces. But we found, when applied to our garlicky cutting boards, they barely masked the smell or taste. Skip it.

Remedies 2-5. Ground coffee, grated potato, grated apple, and a coarse-salt-and-half-lemon mix. Hey, we had to try a few internet hacks. All fails. Move on.

Remedy 6: Baking soda paste. We're happy to report: this mostly got the stink out! We spread a generous amount of baking soda on the smelly area of our cutting board, scrubbed it with warm water and then followed up with soap and hot water. Afterward, the garlic smell and taste was faint enough that we had to take a few sniffs before we realized it was still, somewhat, there.

Bottom line: A baking soda paste can soften the immediate stink, but there's only one absolute solution: you need to isolate odors on their own surface. Designate one cutting board for garlic and onions only. Maybe consider a separate cutting board for meat and poultry while you're at it. We like this OXO dishwasher-safe plastic cutting board (Bed Bath & Beyond, $18) and this Architec wooden cutting board (Bed Bath & Beyond, $15.)

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